2023 Yard and Garden To-Do List Late-Summer Check-in - September 2023

My 2023 yard and garden to-do list had 25 items on it and with most1 of the growing season behind us, I thought it would be helpful (for me!) to do a mid-season check-in.  How am I doing against my priorities?  What do I need to do before the season ends?  Let's run through the list and see how we're doing:

1.  Evergreens.  I wanted to plant more evergreens.  I've planted 19 evergreens so far this season:  five Boxwoods in front, a Columnar Scotch Pine tree in back and now 13 more Boxwoods in back.  I also transplanted a large Boxwood from the front-to-back.  So..20 evergreens including one transplant.  I'd say...Done

2.  IB2DW Extension.  I wanted to extend the bed and add 'clustered evergreens' along with other things like grasses and annuals.  I haven't added anything, but I did amend the soil with biosolids and carved out some turf to extend the bed a little bit.  I'd say this is: Incomplete. 

3.  Front porch bed.  I amended the bed with biosolids (to help improve the stump grindings and hydrophobic mulch everywhere) - even going so far as to do some vertical mulching with deep holes of biosolids.  I planted three new Disneyland Roses, five Green Velvet Boxwoods, a Fire Light Hydrangea, transplanted some grasses, added a bunch of Sesleria and Alliums, planted annual Marigolds, some Ajuga Chocolate Chip and even dug out the front edge.  Big one that I can mark Done

4.  Get (more) serious with vegetables.  The Greenstalk has been great.  No hydroponics, but this is:  Done.

5.  Second Yard hydrant.   Done and Done

6.  Become a gardener who weeks.  Have done it more than previous years, but with us not being home for A LOT of the summer, weeds crept in.  But, I'd say this one is on track to be green at the end of the year.  For now:  Incomplete.

7.  Keep working the lawn.  Good progress.  But, need to overseed and feed.  Incomplete.

8. Add a water feature and landscape lighting. Both of these are Done.

9. Work the Espalier'd trees.  A bunch of things are done - posts are down and trees are pruned. I also have two more trees to go in with a new espalier form this Fall.  So...Mostly Done.

10. Fern Upgrade. Replace the Ostrich Ferns. Sort-of. Incomplete, I'd say (at this point).   Added a couple of Crested Wood ferns and moved a bunch of Ostrich Ferns.  Need to buy some more this Fall.

11.  Continue on composting.  Pretty good progress.  Turned and re-piled.  Will need to add another bin this Fall, though.  Still....I'd call this Done.  

12.  Improve my container game.  Did I plant the containers?  Yes.  Are they good?  No.  Incomplete.  

13.  Fix/upgrade back stoop.  I removed the rhododendrons and replaced with dwarf Ginkgos.  Only thing left to do is to eradicate the Chipmunks.  But, I'd say that these are upgraded.  Done

14.  Pick a project:  Boardwalk or Orangerie Box.  I completed the boardwalk. Big one.  Done.  

15.  Upgrade the firepit area.  I planted a climbing hydrangea, some boxwoods and a Japanese Maple.  I also added a bunch of new Bluestone chips, bistro lighting with posts and three more chairs.  Done

16.  Continue seasonal projects.  Feeding and treating.  Good progress.  Dealing with tree seeds.  Yep.  Pruned some shrubs.  Removing Wild Onions.  Still much more to do, including an update on the tree seedling/nursery (for now)...so I'd say: Incomplete

17.  Keep going on groundcover.  20+ planted.  More to do this Fall.  But, on track to be Done.

18.  Deal with the 'kitchen curved' border.  I planted some bedding Wave Petnunias.  And a tiny Emperor 1 JM.  But, not enough done here.  Incomplete

19.  Staghorns.   I've been terrible with all houseplants.  My Mickey Mouse topiary died totally.  Ugh.   Need to transplant my Pencil Cactus.  But, my mounted Staghorns are on their way back.  And, we did some good stuff with Fairy Gardens this year.  We'll see.  But, for now:  Incomplete

20.  Process the firewood.  Did a bunch.  But, I also broke my maul.  Way too much left for September - when I've missed a number of good 'drying' or 'aging' months.  Incomplete

21.  Plant trees.  I've already planted nine trees this year.  Including six new Japanese Maples.  Six!  More to do, but on track to be Done

22.  Take another look at bonsai.  Nope.  Nothing.  Incomplete

23.  Stain the patio container.  Nope.  Nothing.  Incomplete.  Again(!!!)

24.  Try to get cuttings to root.  Sort of.  But, uncertain if I've had enough success.  Some tree seeds, but not a lot on cuttings yet.  But, I'll update this one, for sure.  For now... Incomplete.  

25.  Use annuals beyond the container.   Have done it all around the front and backyard.  Not enough, but enough to be Done (for this year).  

What does the tale-of-the-tape look like?

13 marked as Done
12 marked as Incomplete.  

Now...a closer look reveals some addition details and nuance there including a number (SEVEN!) of currently Incompletes (including weeding, lawn, fern upgrade, seasonal projects, staghorns and houseplants, firewood and cuttings) that, as long as I keep them up will flip over.  That would put my total to be on pace for (at least) 20 Dones.   And there are some BIG ones in there including the front porch, evergreens and the Boardwalk. 

What are those five hold outs that I need to focus on (if possible!) to get done the next few months?

IB2DWs extension.    This one is a possibility.  Depends on the Fall sales.

Improve my container game.  Not going to happen.  Next year. 

Kitchen curved border.  Not likely to happen.

Take another look at bonsai.  Fail.  But, there's always Fall conifer sales? 

Stain the patio container.  Not likely to happen is it, Jake??

What's it mean?  With some ease, I think that I get to 20 of 25.  Getting to 21 or 22 seems like a stretch (IB2DWs is something that I could see happening and buying some pre-bonsai stock, too?).  

I'd be fine with that - as some of the items have some hefty WEIGHTS to them - in terms of project types.  There are also plenty of things that aren't on this list that I think are important to consider.

What are those 'hefty' items? Boardwalk comes first.  Long-time coming project.  Front porch bed.  Big project that will pay off over the years.  The second yard hydrant has changed the way I water completely.  And the Rhodo-to-dwarf-ginkgo swap by the stoop is a HUGE improvement.  Those are all BIG items.

What's not on the list that still was done this year?  I added 50 gallons of Bluestone chips to the firepit and 50 gallons to the northside walkway.  While I haven't (yet) stained the patio container, I did sand and apply teak oil to our patio table.   I also added four new shrubs to the southside back-of-bed (2 Snowqueen Oakleaf Hydrangeas and 2 Eiffel Tower Black Elderberries) that we're on my roadmap for this year.   We also had our first real peony flowers - after moving them to the front yard a couple of years ago.   And, very early in the growing season, I added (gifted by our neighbor) a couple of native, Spring ephemerals - which is something that I've been thinking about for years. 

I think that adds up to me feeling good about the trajectory of the season - even if I finish up with 20 items complete.  Those twenty...plus the other work feel like a lot of progress.

What am I already thinking about for next year?  The Moongate.  Or the Orangerie Box.   And...more Japanese Maples, of course. 



1. [Most of the growing season...sure. But NOT most of the planting/outdoor season. I have all of September and (hopefully) most of October to work.]

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